Before I begin discussing Adam and Eve, and while I was reading it, there are a few important issues that I sort of have to mentally rummage through.
First, do I believe that the story of Adam and Eve is literal? Was there really a man, Adam, and a woman, Eve, who lived in a paradisaical garden wherein there was a fruit tree that would give them knowledge of good and evil and a snake that could talk and tempt? (Now that last part sounds sort of derisive, but obviously if it is literal, my disdain of the talking snake is just part of the enmity between me (woman) and the serpent, and I’m crushing its head (ego). So, please, literal readers of the Bible, don’t get all up in arms about me yet!)
Second, if I do believe that the first few people in the Bible were real people, and it all happened exactly as Genesis claims, how do I reconcile that to dinosaurs and early fossils of humans, as I don’t really buy into a fossil-hiding god.
Third, if I don’t believe that the first few people were real people, but are in fact mythological (as in, early stories that evolved through years of retelling to explain the beginnings and nature of humankind, through which a person can find rich life lessons and meaning about life), when do I believe that they start being real? If not Adam, then Noah? Abraham? King David? Jesus? As someone who has absolutely no understanding of the actual history of the times of the Bible (or, you know, recent history), if I don’t believe that everything in the Bible is literal and exactly as written, I have to make decisions (prayerfully, hopefully) about what I believe were real miracles and what are good life lessons.
Also, something worth noting as I begin discussing Genesis, is that I began reading A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren. In the first chapter, he discusses the narrative question, specifically, how should we approach the narrative of the Bible, and is the way that we’ve historically approached it the best way? (Note: my words and how I understood the chapter.) I found the chapter to be incredibly rewarding and generative of a ton of questions to ask while reading.
Basically, McLaren suggests that we (Christians) historically have looked at the Bible from a Plato-esque worldview, with perfection, the fall, condemnation, salvation, heaven, and hell. And that the Bible is messier than that. And more real and earthy and dirty and alive than that, if that makes sense. Anyway, he said it much better than me, so go read the book (although I might blog more about it later).
So, without further rambling by me, I will begin my discussions with some thoughts on Adam and Eve and the so-called Fall.